Twenty two new working peers will join the House of Lords. Photo: AFP
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Dame Gail Rebuck, widow of Philip Gould, announced as new Labour peer

Twenty two new peers announced.

Dame Gail Rebuck, the widow of Labour peer Philip Gould, has been selected by Labour to become a working peer.

The chair of Penguin Random House UK, Dame Gail was voted the 10th most powerful woman in the UK by Radio 4's Woman's House last year. Made a dame in 2009, she will now join the Lords, to which her late husband was elevated in 2004.

Gould, who died in 2011, was an aide to Tony Blair and one of the principle architects of the New Labour political project.

Michael Cashman, a former Eastenders actor, has also been nominated by Labour for a peerage.

The announcement today of the latest round of working peers sees 22 titles bestowed by the Queen.

Twelve peers have been appointed by the Tories, six by the Lib Dems, three by Labour and one by the Democratic Unionist Party.

Accusations of cronyism have already been thrown at the Conservatives, as details of the plan to ennoble key donor Michael Farmer, a City financier, were leaked last week. Former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose and football executive Karren Brady have also been nominated.

Before today, David Cameron had already named 161 new peers since 2010. The new appointments have come amid a row that the House of Lords is becoming over crowded and too expensive.

New figures revealed earlier this week showed that expenses claimed by members of the Lords have risen by more than £4 million since the government came to power. Peers’ allowances have increased from £17.2m before the 2010 election to £21.6m.

Former Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd complained this week that the Lords was becoming overcrowded and urged older peers to bow out.

New rules passed this year allow peers to retire permanently from the House for the first time.

Boothroyd said: “It is so overcrowded that there is enough space for only about two thirds of us in the chamber itself.”

Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One on Monday, she added: “It is appalling. All prime ministers are very keen to put a lot of new members in here so that they can get their legislation through.”

 

The full list of new working peers is below.

 

Conservative Party

Karren Brady CBE – Vice-Chairman of West Ham FC; Senior Non-Executive Director of the Syco and Arcadia Brands; Small Business Ambassador for the Conservative Party; and member of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Women in Sport Advisory Board.

Martin Callanan – former Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England; former Leader of the Conservative MEPs and of the European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Carlyn Chisholm – Senior volunteer in the Conservative Party; Co-Chairman of the Conservative Candidate’s Committee; former nurse.

Andrew Cooper – Former Director of Political Operations to the Conservative Party; founder and Board Director of Populus.

Natalie Evans – Director of New Schools Network, an independent educational charity established to provide free advice and support for groups wanting to set up free schools.

Michael Farmer – Founding Partner of RK Mine Finance Group; Trustee of the Kingham Hill Trust; Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Dido Harding – Chief Executive of TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC.

Arminka Helic – Government Special Adviser; leading adviser to Government on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Nosheena Mobarik CBE – Businesswomen; former Chairman of CBI Scotland; founder and Convener of the Scotland Pakistan Network; Chairman of the Pakistan Britain Trade and Investment Forum.

Sir Stuart Rose – Former Chief Executive and Chairman of Marks and Spencer PLC.

Joanna Shields OBE – leading technology industry executive and entrepreneur; the Prime Minister’s Digital Adviser; Chair of Tech City UK; and Non-Executive Director of the London Stock Exchange.

Ranbir Suri – businessman; former General Secretary of the Board of British Sikhs.

 

Labour Party

Michael Cashman CBE – Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency; equality rights campaigner; former actor.

Chris Lennie – political strategist; former Deputy Secretary General of the Labour Party.

Dame Gail Rebuck – businesswoman, publisher, chairman of Penguin Random House UK

 

Liberal Democrat Party

Chris Fox - Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats.

Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport.

Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher.

Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council.

Paul Scriven – managing partner for Scriven Consulting; former elected Member and Leader of Sheffield City Council; former senior NHS manager.

Cllr Dr Julie Smith – elected Member of Newnham City Council; Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at Cambridge University; Fellow of Robinson College.

 
Democratic Unionist Party

William Hay MLA – Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, who has elected to sit on the crossbenches.

Lucy Fisher writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2013. She tweets @LOS_Fisher.

 

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An Irish Sea border – and 3 other tricky options for Northern Ireland after Brexit

There is no easy option for Northern Ireland after Brexit. 

Deciding on post-Brexit border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is becoming an issue for which the phrase "the devil is in the detail" could have been coined. Finding a satisfactory solution that delivers a border flexible enough not to damage international trade and commerce and doesn’t undermine the spirit, or the letter, of the Good Friday Agreement settlement is foxing Whitehall’s brightest.

The dial seemed to have settled on David Davis’s suggestion that there could be a "digital border" with security cameras and pre-registered cargo as a preferred alternative to a "hard border" replete with checkpoints and watchtowers.

However the Brexit secretary’s suggestion has been scotched by the new Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, who says electronic solutions are "not going to work". Today’s Times quotes him saying that "any barrier or border on the island of Ireland in my view risks undermining a very hard-won peace process" and that there is a need to ensure the "free movement of people and goods and services and livelihoods".

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has made dealing with the Irish border question one of his top three priorities before discussions on trade deals can begin. British ministers are going to have to make-up their minds which one of four unpalatable options they are going to choose:

1. Hard border

The first is to ignore Dublin (and just about everybody in Northern Ireland for that matter) and institute a hard border along the 310-mile demarcation between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Given it takes in fields, rivers and forests it’s pretty unenforceable without a Trump-style wall. More practically, it would devastate trade and free movement. Metaphorically, it would be a powerful symbol of division and entirely contrary to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. The Police Federation in Northern Ireland has also warned it would make police officers "sitting ducks for terrorists". Moreover, the Irish government will never agree to this course. With the EU in their corner, there is effectively zero chance of this happening.

2. Northern EU-land

The second option is to actually keep Northern Ireland inside the EU: offering it so-called "special status". This would avoid the difficulty of enforcing the border and even accord with the wishes of 56 per cent of the Northern Irish electorate who voted to Remain in the EU. Crucially, it would see Northern Ireland able to retain the £600m a year it currently receives from the EU. This is pushed by Sinn Fein and does have a powerful logic, but it would be a massive embarrassment for the British Government and lead to Scotland (and possibly London?) demanding similar treatment.

3. Natural assets

The third option is that suggested by the Irish government in the Times story today, namely a soft border with customs and passport controls at embarkation points on the island of Ireland, using the Irish Sea as a hard border (or certainly a wet one). This option is in play, if for no other reason than the Irish government is suggesting it. Again, unionists will be unhappy as it requires Britain to treat the island of Ireland as a single entity with border and possibly customs checks at ports and airports. There is a neat administrate logic to it, but it means people travelling from Northern Ireland to "mainland" Britain would need to show their passports, which will enrage unionists as it effectively makes them foreigners.

4. Irish reunification

Unpalatable as that would be for unionists, the fourth option is simply to recognise that Northern Ireland is now utterly anomalous and start a proper conversation about Irish reunification as a means to address the border issue once and for all. This would see both governments acting as persuaders to try and build consent and accelerate trends to reunify the island constitutionally. This would involve twin referendums in both Northern Ireland and the Republic (a measure allowed for in the Good Friday Agreement). Given Philip Hammond is warning that transitional arrangements could last three years, this might occur after Brexit in 2019, perhaps as late as the early 2020s, with interim arrangements in the meantime. Demographic trends pointing to a Catholic-nationalist majority in Northern Ireland would, in all likelihood require a referendum by then anyway. The opportunity here is to make necessity the mother of invention, using Brexit to bring Northern Ireland’s constitutional status to a head and deal decisively with the matter once and for all.

In short, ministers have no easy options, however time is now a factor and they will soon have to draw the line on, well, drawing the line.

Kevin Meagher is a former special adviser at the Northern Ireland Office and author of "A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable and how it will come about"

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut and a former special adviser at the Northern Ireland office.